Let Me Explain: Because I’m worth it

I don’t wanna grow up; I’m a “joys are plus” kid. Let me explain.

Maybe it’s romanticism preventing me from accepting a job that doesn’t make me 100 percent happy, or perhaps it’s just plain stubbornness in pursuing the ever-elusive career of the ultimate joy. I wanted to be the next Kristi Yamaguchi when I was 7 years old, but apparently this requires even the slightest hint of a center of balance. My flaws are not the results of my parents’ inflicted emotional scarring; they are instead bruises from turning corners too quickly and running into doorframes. As kids, we have grandiose visions of our futures-visions that disregard our physical limitations-but they seem less and less attainable as we grow older.

That is, unless you’re Ben Casnocha. The 19-year-old San Francisco entrepreneur/writer founded his second company, Comcate, Inc., at age 14, when the rest of us were giving ourselves cautionary cootie shots. He juggled his duties as editor of his high school newspaper and captain of the varsity basketball team with jet-setting across the nation for meetings in support of Comcate, “the leading provider of Web-based software for public agencies.”

“You need to be grounded to reality,” said Casnocha. “As you get older, you become more and more in touch with how the world actually works, versus how it should work. We should always strive for the ideal, but we can’t lose sight of where we are today.”

What can account for the gradual loss of our idealism? Before college, I swore that the first piece of furniture I’d purchase after acquiring my first apartment would be a piano-even before buying a bed. I imagined spending evenings coloring the dusky apartment with blues chords to lean into and perdendos to sleep to. A starving artist doesn’t need furniture-just a good composition to sink his or her teeth into.

While inching closer and closer to the almost-real world’s carnival entrance of warped mirrors and alcoholic clowns, I’ve learned that not only will life not work out the clueless way I had planned, but it can’t. They’re called starving artists for a reason: They can’t afford to eat, and so they die. It isn’t artistic and terribly tragic; it’s dim-witted and stubborn.

OK, so maybe these dreams and visions of ours can’t work out, but does this mean that we have to stop believing in them? Must we give up on our piano pipe dreams and give in to reality’s leaky pipes, a roach infestation and a bigoted German super?

Maybe it was those ?ber-ambitious career gals in Nikes and shoulder pad-supported power suites who engrained in us the necessity of working to live rather than living to work. (Personally, I’d prefer a pauper’s utopia to a prince’s ulcer any day.) It seems as though a person who enjoys his or her job is deemed the negative “workaholic,” but what’s the crisis with having a job you love?

“Eventually, you will find certain interests more compelling than others, and you will have to focus on them,” Casnocha said. Proficient at this already, the w?nderkid who puts the rest of us to shame is releasing his first book, My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned On His Journey Through Silicon Valley, in May.

“Society rewards specialization in something,” he said. But, most importantly: “There’s no rush. People spend years trying to discover their elusive ‘passion.’ The cost of failure for recent college grads is so low that I think it’s stupid to be conservative. The consequences of failure at age 25 are much, much less than at age 35.”

Promise yourself nothing but the best. Look in the mirror, bat those eyelashes and coyly whisper, “Hey there, you. You’ve got a bit of greenery in your teeth and your socks don’t match, but you are worth the difficult quest for professional happiness. Now, go floss; you make me sick.”

Psychiatrist Carl Jung said that “he who looks outside, dreams; he who looks inside, awakens.” Reflect on, locate and define your life’s passion, and then pursue it. If you aren’t happy, well, then keep on movin’, lil’ doggy. You’re too young for a job that makes you cry into your Aberlour whiskey in the empty evenings, and the middle-aged bartender won’t be moved by your limited life’s story.

So, cheer up, mates! The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) predicts that post-college hiring will increase by 17.4 percent for this year’s graduating class. Somewhere out there in that wheat field of employment dreams is a remarkable (and lucrative!) job that fits you like a pitcher’s glove. Find it. Attain it. Make it yours. Strike out-on your own.